Detection of Leishmania infantum DNA in tissues of free-ranging red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) in Central Italy
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To assess the role of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) as a reservoir of leishmaniosis, 92 adult foxes of both genders (58 males and 34 females), shot during the regular hunting seasons in Central Italy, were examined. Blood samples were taken as well as samples from spleen, lymph nodes, and skin to investigate the presence of antibodies against Leishmania infantum and the presence of the parasite DNA in tissues, by means of a species-specific polymerase chain reaction, respectively. All tested sera were negative as well as skin samples. Forty eight animals (52.2%) had leishmania DNA in the lymph nodes and the splenic samples from eight of them (8.7%) scored positive also. The present report would indicate that foxes in an L. infantum medium-endemic area seem negligible reservoir for leishmania infection, even if more than 50% of them bear parasite DNA in their lymphatic tissue.
KeywordsLeishmania Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) PCR Reservoir Lymph node Skin DNA
The authors would like to thank the Province of Pisa and Regione Toscana that made this study possible by providing funding and especially the hunters of the Province of Pisa and their associations (ATC 14 and 15) for their work and their helpfulness. Authors also acknowledge the students of Veterinary Medicine course of the University of Pisa who helped during necropsies and sampling.
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